The Atlas Six | Review
Rating - ⭐⭐1/2
"The Alexandrian Society is a secret society of magical academicians, the best in the world. Their members are caretakers of lost knowledge from the greatest civilizations of antiquity. And those who earn a place among their number will secure a life of wealth, power, and prestige beyond their wildest dreams. Each decade, the world’s six most uniquely talented magicians are selected for initiation – and here are the chosen few...
- Libby Rhodes and Nicolás Ferrer de Varona: inseparable enemies, cosmologists who can control matter with their minds.
- Reina Mori: a naturalist who can speak the language of life itself.
- Parisa Kamali: a mind reader whose powers of seduction are unmatched.
- Tristan Caine: the son of a crime kingpin who can see the secrets of the universe.
- Callum Nova: an insanely rich pretty boy who could bring about the end of the world. He need only ask.
When the candidates are recruited by the mysterious Atlas Blakely, they are told they must spend one year together to qualify for initiation. During this time, they will be permitted access to the Society’s archives and judged on their contributions to arcane areas of knowledge. Five, they are told, will be initiated. One will be eliminated. If they can prove themselves to be the best, they will survive. Most of them."
The Atlas Six is the first novel in The Atlas, a fantasy series by Olivie Blake.
This book has been making its rounds on all kinds of platforms, so naturally, I picked this up to see what all the hype was about. I kept my expectations in the middle though because I had seen that people were disappointed by this book...and I am one of those people.
This was just not what I was hoping for this to be. It was one of those cases where the plot was good, but the execution was very lackluster.
Let's get into the details.
I thought the writing, for the most part, was pretty good. There were some pretty chunky paragraphs though that could have been broken up. The writing did also feel a bit pretentious at times, for a lack of a better word, like the author went through the dictionary to throw in some fancy words.
Something this book also does that is a pet peeve of mine, is that full names would be used sometimes like the character is some kind of celebrity. One thing I will give this book is that it included pictures, which is a huge bonus for me. I love it when character art is included so that I can see exactly how the author imagined their characters.
This started out interesting as the story immediately starting with some info-dumping about the Society. However, any initial intrigued flatlines after that and just didn't recover because not much actually happens in this book. It felt very much so like a longwinded set-up for the bigger story that is to come in future installments.
The biggest flaw, for me, is the fact that this a more character-based than anything, choosing to focus on the characters and building dynamics between them. That is an issue because, for one, only one main character was mildly interesting to read about and, secondly, that meant that the story was pushed to the background. Aside from some moments and the focus on the characters, the only thing that was happening was them conducting research.
As I have already stated, the pacing was off because a whole lot of nothing happened, and when something did, it felt very out of place, like what was happening wasn't supposed to happen at that moment. And when the story did pick up towards the end, it took a deep dive off the end and hit concrete instead of water.
It tried to set up this big story in the end and just missed completely because there was barely any set-up for it throughout the book. All-in-all, this book felt kind of pointless. I think either this could have been condensed, a lot, into a standalone, or could have been combined with whatever is going to occur in the next book to make things more interesting.
This is set in a world where magic is very prevalent, with 9.5 billion out of 10 billion having some form of magic to a degree. For some reason, I was not expecting that at all. I thought that because this was set in a secret society, that magic would be way less common. I did think the way that magical prowess was stratified was well-thought-out enough though.
Although 9.5 billion people could harness magic, only a very small percentage of those people would be considered medeian. Medeian's are really strong and rare magical abilities, and only those people would be considered for the selection process for the Society. This was a good way to separate the main characters from the rest of the magical population.
As for the Society itself, while in theory, it sounds like heaven to me, the way the story was written took a lot of the magic away from it. A secret society that has rare knowledge at its fingertips that only people within said society can have access to with no restrictions sounds amazing. Unfortunately for me, the sense of mystery and exclusivity wasn't portrayed how I wanted it to.
One element that I liked about this world, which was sadly only a background story, was that there were also magical creatures. We only get a small sense of this through Gideon, a friend of one of the characters, who is part finfolk (mermaid) and part equidae (satyr). This was honestly more interesting than anything else in this world.
Six people are chosen to compete in an initiation process to become a member of the exclusive Alexandrian Society. Five out of six of those initiates I didn't particularly like...which was problematic for me. As I said earlier on, this book was heavily character-focused, so the fact that I didn't like most of the characters posed a huge problem for me.
Let's start with Libby and Nico, who are the first characters we are introduced to. Libby kind of reminds me of Hermione, but a less likable one. She was a take-charge kind of person who no one else enjoyed being around, and I don't really blame them. She also made decisions in this book that I could not stand by. Nico, on the other hand, wasn't a very gravitating character and was probably the most boring one out of everyone.
Now, the dynamic between Libby and Nico was not something I enjoyed reading about. Right off the bat, they are bickering with each other, and they continue to do so throughout the entire book. And, it is not the kind of bickering that is witty banter between people that builds up romantic tension, no, it is just annoying back and forth between two characters I don't care about.
Moving onto Reina, she was the more solitary 'badass' character, who wasn't particularly utilized well. Like Nico, she didn't have much of a presence, mainly because she just wasn't inserted into the story enough and was kind of just in the background. I think she could have had a lot of potential if we were able to spend more time with her.
Callum is a bit of a complex character, and I don't really know how to feel about him. He was portrayed as more antagonistic and apathetic due to his ability as an empath. If the author could have explored his character a bit more, I think he could have made a great chaotic character, but because of his actions and outlook in this, I didn't enjoy reading about him as much as I could have.
Parisa, like Callum, was a more antagonistic character. Unlike Callum who I could understand a bit more, I didn't like Parisa from the start (even though she is supposed to be unlikable). When she first meets the rest of the characters, she immediately starts judging them based on how useful they would be to her, or whether or not she would sleep with them. It was just not a good introduction to a character for me, and she didn't get any better throughout the book.
Tristan, out of everyone except for one, was the character I liked the most and the one person who actually felt like a properly fleshed- out person. His background was explained a bit more compared to the others, and his ability to see through illusions was promising.
The only other character, and the one I found the most interesting, was Gideon. He is a minor character but was one who had a promising backstory that should have been utilized better. I would rather have a side story about him over the actual story.
As for the authority figures of the book, Atlas and Dalton, I didn't think much of them. Atlas was a mysterious character whose story arc took a very abrupt turn. Dalton's story was entangled in Parisa's which I was not the biggest fan of.
This was a big swing and a miss for me, which is disappointing because this could have been something great. The characters and the story just ended up falling really short.